Patio With Pizzazz
Florida residents can take advantage of livable outdoor family rooms year-round. Here, homeowner Ann Rubino and friend Monica Heftler enjoy an afternoon visit.
| Credit: Jean Allsopp / Styling: Lisa Powell

When it comes to outdoor areas, Miami residents know livability and style are key to enjoying the climate year-round. Shady and comfortable porches invite people to enjoy the cooling breeze as they gather for meals and fun.

Ann and Frank Rubino place a special premium on the outdoor experience guests enjoy at their Pinecrest, Florida, home. "The patio was intended to be just as pretty as the inside of the house," Ann says. "We are outdoors more than we are indoors."

Beauty and function work hand in hand in this French-influenced, shade-filled portico with arched entrances. French doors, an iron chandelier, slate flooring, potted plants, and furnishings arranged in several vignettes are welcoming elements of this space.

Pretty and Multifunctional
Multiple seating upholstered in neutral hues; matching cast-iron furnishings; and durable, all-weather fabrics provide an attractive and practical area for dining or enjoying the sunset. "This is an ideal area for both social gatherings with family and friends as well as a cool hideaway from the harsh sun," explains designer and family friend James Murphy. "Ann and Frank spend just as much time entertaining as they do relaxing here. The space is extremely versatile."

Natural Impact
The choice of flooring, multicolored slate squares laid in a diagonal pattern, serves as a textured focal point. "We found the tiles before we ever built the house, and we developed the outdoor color scheme around them," Ann says.

A taupe stucco exterior provides a soothing backdrop that complements the adjacent pool and landscaped view. Walls of French doors open to the indoor family and breakfast rooms, providing quick and convenient access from outdoors.

In addition to healthy green plants and coral and orange pillows, a tropical centerpiece provides a dramatic pop in the room.

Outdoor Elements

  • Determine the focal point or create your own, and build an outdoor room that conveys its best characteristics.
  • Make the space multifunctional, varying the seating arrangements for greater interest and appeal.
  • Fabrics and accessories don't have to look like they were made for the outdoors. Great-looking options are widely available.
  • Select furnishings that complement, not overwhelm, the overall theme and design.
  • Use materials with the ability to withstand your region's weather conditions.
  • Incorporate potted plants and floral arrangements to bring in color.